Money could be the biggest roadblock for the future of Indiana's transportation infrastructure. The “critical” recommendations presented to Governor Mike Pence by a transportation panel include adding lanes to Interstates 70, 65 and 69. Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry, who was on the committee, says once-reliable funding from the gas tax is now shrinking as Americans drive less and buy more fuel-efficient cars. You can view the Blue Ribbon Pannel's full report by clicking here.

He says the panel recommends relying less on gas taxes and more on a new revenue source that would be funded with a user tax. Henry says the panel discussed how placing a user tax on the area of truck transportation could form a reliable funding stream for Indiana.

The governor's panel also continued to discuss the project known as the Commerce Connector. The group noted in its report that the beltway has drawn “particularly heavy scrutiny due to its potential impact on Indianapolis.” However, while stating an appreciation for the concerns, the panel said the connector should be high priority because it would move freight and passenger traffic in and around Indianapolis and donut counties.

Henry calls the Commerce Connector a conversation–adding no current plans are on the table for the second Indy beltway and no right-of-way has been acquired; he says it is simply an idea. Moreover, no funding exists for the Commerce Connector, so its estimated $2 billion dollar price tag would likely be a stumbling block.

Governor Pence has accepted the panel's recommendations and passed the advice to his executive staff to review. It is Henry's hope that the executive staff will return with recommendations that use the Blue Ribbon panel's report as a foundation.

Source: Office of Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry

News Release originally posted July 9, 2014

Indianapolis, Ind. — Governor Mike Pence today accepted a report from the Blue Ribbon Panel on Transportation Infrastructure detailing recommendations for Indiana’s next generation of transportation infrastructure, including water, air, road, and rail.

The panel, co-chaired by Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann and Cathy Langham, President and CEO of Langham Logistics, offered 25 recommendations related to priority projects, transportation funding, policy changes, and strategies to prepare Indiana for future innovations.

“I want to thank each of the members of the Blue Ribbon Panel for their extensive research and collaboration over the past year,” said Governor Pence. “The panel’s work has recognized several opportunities for the state to build on, and I hope that many of these ideas will encourage a broader conversation on the future of transportation infrastructure in this state.”

The Governor will engage relevant state agencies, including the Department of Transportation and the Ports of Indiana, in evaluating the recommendations of the panel.

The report fulfills the Governor’s Roadmap promise to appoint a blue ribbon panel to plan the next generation of Hoosier infrastructure.

Source: Office of Indiana Governor Mike Pence

News Release originally posted July 9, 2014

Indianapolis, Ind. — Indiana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kevin Brinegar on the release of the report from the state’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Transportation Infrastructure:

“The recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Transportation Infrastructure are an important first step. The group has identified priority projects and clearly defined the funding challenges. Equally important will be the work called for in HEA 1104 (2014), legislation outlining an Indiana Department of Transportation study of financing alternatives that will help meet future funding needs.

“In addition, it’s time for Washington to get its act together and assure that federal funding shortfalls are addressed. Some states are already cutting back on important projects in fear of Highway Trust Fund deficiencies as soon as August 1. What is truly needed – instead of short-term, crisis-avoiding extensions – is a multi-year renewal of the federal transportation plan.

“Superior infrastructure is one of the four drivers of the Indiana Chamber-led Indiana Vision 2025 (www.indianachamber.com/2025) and strong transportation via road, rail, air and water is critical to our state’s economic future.”

Source: Indiana Chamber of Commerce

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